A few days ago,I had the honor of listening to Nicholas Kristof’s presentation at the Newport Beach Library Foundation where I volunteer. I had recently seen him and his wife Sherly WuDunn on Oprah, talking about the need for gender equality among the world. Their recent book, Half the Sky is based on the Chinese proverb that women hold up half the sky.
Kristof and WuDunn state that, “Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.” If we make loans available to women, they are more likely to spend it on educating their kids and starting a business. Men often waste it on alcohol, prostitutes and festivities. His point is that it makes sense to invest in women.
Half the Sky is based on true stories of women and girls around the world. Kristof briefly mentioned so many aspects which he covers in the book.
1). In Liberia, West Africa, 90% of females over the age of 3, have been sexually attacked.
2). The 1780’s was the peak of slavery, with 80,000 slaves imported from Africa. Today we have 800,000 slaves a year trafficked across boarders.
3). In 2004 Kristof purchased two girls from brothels in Cambodia for $150 and $200,and received receipts for them. He did this to rescue them. Problem is many girls run back to the brothel as they are addicted to meth, a way for the brothel owners to control them.
4). In India, they beat the uncooperative girls to death in front of the other girls, in the brothel.
5). In Niger, there is a one in seven chance of dying during childbirth. A 13-year-old’s pelvis cannot accommodate the baby and the girl is left incontinent and often with nerve damage in her legs.
DOES AID WORK?
Kristof replied, “Some does and some doesn’t. We are getting better at figuring out what to do. Health, education, micro-financing, water and nutrition aid, has had a BIG IMPACT.”
Kristof mentioned other examples of what is cheap and works:
De-worming, only costs 50 cents/pill and lasts a year. By de-worming, kids are more likely to stay in schools 30 extra days/year.
Now I understand why Nurse Judy, explained how critical it was for us to give the kids in Red Bank, Belize a de-worming pill, and that the government of Belize, wants each kid to be logged into the computer system.
High school girls drop out of school because they can’t handle menstruation, and can’t get pads or underwear. Making these available for young girls, is another way to help them get educated.
Kristof’s book is so full of stories and information that my eyes are opening globally. My one recent experience volunteering in Belize, has made me hungry to write about, and get involved with international work. Not surprising since I myself feel like a citizen of the world.
What are your thoughts on coming to the aid of women and girls around the world? Do you think this is the way to change global poverty?
Kelli Nørgaard says
I definitely think women and girls are the way to make real changes in the world… the men have tried it their way long enough….
Cairo Typ0 says
The recently released book "The Blue Notebook" by James A Levin deals with child prostitution in India. I don't remember the exact details but a portion of the sales of the book go to aid these girls.
Absolutely! Women all over the world suffer from low literacy. Unicef reports that two thirds of of the world’s children not in school are girls and two thirds of the world’s 875 million illiterate adults are women. When women and girls receive equity, education and freedom they will be liberated to help save their children, communities and take their rightful place in helping to lead the world into lightness.
I am so happy for you that your Belize volunteer experience was life changing. Here's to being a citizen of the planet!
Elizabeth Bradley says
It's hard to believe how terrible women have it in other countries. It's so sad. At least we have shelters here.
I remember when Oprah opened the school in Africa and she was quoted as saying that girls were the future of Africa. I thought she had a good point. But more importantly, I think education is the key to improving the quality of life for women and men alike.
I'm looking forward to seeing this book, it looks really interesting.
I think that for things to change for women, we need to stand together. In every country and in the world as a whole we need to stand together against all these wrongs.
Journaling Woman says
Hello, Sonia, Thanks for stopping by the ole blog.
My answer is of course we should help women because they do so much for society. But my biggest wish would be for women to be valued in all cultures. How stupid it is that the strong and the rich can control the weak and the poor.
The title of your post says it all, Sonia. Cultural changes are slow, but it is women like you and those you can influence and help that can make a difference.
I definitely think that it makes sense investing in girls and women. Do you know The Girl Effect? They have been doing this for a while and there are certainly many statistics that show that if you invest in a woman, it affects the home, kids, and village in a positive way. When I give my Kiva credits, I usually invest in women too.
About not being able to see my photos on my blog, no one else has complained, so I wonder if there is something going on with your own computer?
The Blonde Duck says
I think that rather being looked at as women, women should be seen as valued individuals with rich personalities and thoughts–not just boobs or the ability to have kids.
Hi Sonia–its Kim from over at chrysalisvoyage.com/wordpress. Looks like you've been having your own adventures. Very much appreciated checking out your blog! I'll be back! In our travels I was encouraged to see that the status of women is changing in Morocco and in Egypt!
Well said, especially in the third world.
I'm so glad to hear this is being addressed and discussed by so many.
Thanks Lyn for the "citizen of the planet," mention. Maybe that's something all women should strive to become.
As Kristof mentioned, "we are the ones who have won the lottery."
So sad that corruption in so many countries stops that from happening.
Imagine the potential of our message if all women stood together.
Yes, I agree with your statement and wonder if that's not always been the case.
I hope we can all make a small difference, and unite.
Thanks for the tip on The Girl Effect. I know you've been active in international causes, and I'm learning more now.
@The Blonde Duck
I agree, and that's up to each individual woman to send that message.
Interesting that it's changing in Egypt and Morocco. I wonder if that's also the case in more rural areas? I hope so.
Lauri Kubuitsile says
Crimey- I don't know why Oprah says her "school in Africa". Her school is NOT in Africa- it is in South Africa- there are 40+ countries in Africa, each one very different. I find that so annoying. Oprah's school is good in theory but in practice it has many flaws. Creating this odd disconnected group of elitist girls is problematic.
I recently came upon a wonderful thing that may be helpful for your girls in Belize who have no money for pads and underwear so drop from school. They are called mooncups. Think how much money could be saved if these girls had them. I have no idea how much they cost but even myself I'm trying to see how to get one. Here's the link http://www.mooncup.co.uk/ if Nurse Judy wants to investigate.
Yo have no idea how happy I am that you mentioned the mooncup. I checked it out and it's around $20. Unfortunately the UK company cannot sell this in the U.S. as there's another mooncup company in the U.S. I wish I'd heard of this many years ago. I've always hated the waste women cause with pads and tampons. What can we do next for diapers?
I am so happy when you guys start a discussion. You spark ideas and bounce then around and open my mind to future endeavors. Thank you to ALL MY BLOGGER FRIENDS.
Jill Kemerer says
It's so easy to close my eyes to the problems of the world. Thanks for opening them today. And yes, I agree that we need to support women and girls everywhere.
The Blonde Duck says
I tend to go a little crazy stocking up on pumpkin.
Jungle Mom says
In so many cultures it is the weak that are abused. The women and children. Education and security need to be spread across the globe. It hurts so to witness females who are abused and do not even know there is another way to live. Breaks my heart.
Midlife Jobhunter says
"Kristof's book is so full of stories and information that my eyes are opening globally"
That's why you should write your story as well. Fascinating post. I will look for his book – and yours!
Miss Footloose says
Sonia, I'm a little late here, but still wanted to say I'll be looking forward to reading this book. We've lived in developing countries for years and my husband works on aid projects. He get so tired and frustrated by books that say we are doing more harm than good, that we are wasting our money on foreign aid and that nothing works. This is so not true. Yes, there is a lot that doesn't work and is wasteful, but there are many, many great stories about wonderful work being done that has lots of good results.
So, it sounds that this book has some positive things to say about what works and what helps, so that's great.
I agree. Half the Sky takes a positive approach and shows what good people have done. Enjoy!